Getting the right balance of good stuff

Your toddler needs more fat and less fibre than a grown-up. The extra calories in fat give them the energy they need to grow and run around. Too much fibre can fill their tiny tummy, which is an incredible 5 times smaller than an adult’s.

To help them get their fill of good stuff, they’ll need to eat 3 nutrient-packed and balanced meals, plus 2 healthy snacks a day. Fitting them in around their playtime might be easier said than done, as your toddler may be more interested in having fun than eating!

Try to give them a good mix of foods from the food groups below, keeping treats to a minimum. And if you need more ideas on toddler meals, our recipes have been specially created with your active explorer in mind.

Things to include in your toddler’s diet:

Starchy foods

Bread, rice, pasta and cereals can help your busy toddler get the energy they need for all that dashing around. Try to include these in every meal and some snacks.

Fruit & veg

For their size, toddlers need up to 4 times more nutrients like vitamin C than adults. To help them get their daily fix, serve up plenty of fruit and veg at every meal, and as snacks. Offer a rainbow of colours and lots of tastes and textures. Remember, fresh foods are at their lowest prices when they’re in season, and that’s when they taste best too. And tinned, dried and frozen fruit and veg are great long-lasting options to keep on hand.

Full-fat dairy products

To help them keep up with their rapid bone growth, your toddler needs 3 servings of calcium-rich foods, such as milk, cheese and yogurt every day.

Meat, fish & veggie options

Protein, iron and omega-3 play an important role in your toddler’s healthy development. It’s best to ensure they get 2 or 3 daily portions of foods like meat, fish, well-cooked eggs, lentils and beans.

Milk & drinks

With all that charging around your toddler will need to stay hydrated. Aim for 6-8 drinks a day, with most of these being water. Your toddler still needs milk every day to ensure they’re getting the nutrients they need. Just 2 x150ml beakers a day of Cow & Gate's Growing Up Milk can help top up their diet with those hard-to-get nutrients: vitamin D, iron and omega 3. Visit Cow & Gate to find out more.

Things to avoid:

Foods high in sugar

It’s best to keep sugary foods like biscuits, cakes, jam and orange squash to a minimum, to stop your toddler from developing a sweet tooth and possibly tooth decay. For something yummy and naturally sweet, choose fresh fruit instead of desserts with added sugar.

Tempting a fussy eater

Even happy little eaters have off days. In fact around half of all toddlers have fussy eating habits. It’s a natural phase that many go through as they become more independent and learn to say “no!”. So if your toddler suddenly refuses to touch their favourite food, don’t panic. Chances are they’ll love it again in a few days’ time. Just keep smiling and wait a while before you try it again. Read our fussy eaters article for more tips and advice.

Adding texture and variety

Our Careline often gets calls from mums looking for tips on ways to add more texture or variety to a toddler diet. Our articles on toddler feeding, and adding variety, plus our homemade recipes are all great inspiration for feeding your little one!


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